BERLIN (AP) Germany coach Joachim Loew is giving captain Bastian Schweinsteiger every chance to prove his fitness for the European Championship despite the Manchester United midfielder’s knee injury.
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The 31-year-old Schweinsteiger, who hasn’t played since a partial ligament tear in national team training on March 22, was named Tuesday in Loew’s preliminary squad of 27 players for the tournament in France, along with surprise inclusions Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund, Julian Brandt of Bayer Leverkusen and Joshua Kimmich of Bayern Munich.
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The young midfielders have all been rewarded with their first Germany call-ups after breakthrough seasons with their respective clubs. Leroy Sane of Schalke was also picked again after making his debut in the friendly against France in Paris on Nov. 13.
“We’re fully convinced of each one. I’ve no tendency toward striking anyone out,” Loew said at the presentation at the French embassy in Berlin.
Loew, who picked 14 World Cup winners in the squad, will need to whittle down his selection to 20 outfield players and three goalkeepers by May 31.
Schweinsteiger had already missed two months with his first knee injury, while he had a groin problem before that, but Loew said “he can still be important over the course of the tournament.”
Despite an underwhelming season at Galatasaray, Lukas Podolski was initially picked for what could be his seventh consecutive tournament. The 30-year-old Podolski has made 127 appearances for Germany.
“Besides the sporting worth, the personality of the players is important,” Loew said. “It’s something special at a tournament, it’s about more than just playing football, it’s about the team. This has helped us before, when players drop out, Ilkay Gundogan for example, that they can be replaced. The collective is more important than the individual player.”
Gundogan, a Borussia Dortmund midfielder, is out with a knee injury, while Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Christoph Kramer missed out after a poor season. Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose all retired after Germany’s World Cup win in 2014.
Besiktas forward Mario Gomez is back in the squad after missing out on the World Cup win. The 30-year-old Gomez helped Besiktas to the Turkish title with 26 goals and will most likely be playing at his third European Championship after 2008 and 2012.
Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is the undisputed No. 1, with Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno and Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen providing backup.
Germany flies to Ascona, Switzerland, for its training camp on May 24 before friendlies against Slovakia in Augsburg on May 29 and Hungary in Gelsenkirchen on June 4. The squad leaves for its tournament base in Evian-les-Bains on June 7. The tournament starts June 10 and Germany plays its first game against Ukraine in Lille on June 12.
“We are confident but not arrogant. We are strong but not unbeatable,” Loew said with a view to the tournament.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Emre Can (Liverpool), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund/Bayern Munich), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Antonio Ruediger (Roma)
Midfielders: Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Leroy Sane (Schalke), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards: Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Andre Schuerrle (Wolfsburg), Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray)
This story has been corrected to show that Leroy Sane of Schalke has played for Germany before.